English Journal is NCTE's award-winning journal of ideas for English language arts teachers in junior and senior high schools and middle schools.
Calls for Manuscripts
All manuscripts should be submitted via the Editorial Manager system.
General Interest Submissions
We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Exploring Color Hierarchies: Deadline July 15, 2018
Fakery vs. Fact: Deadline Sept. 15, 2018
Exploring Color Hierarchies
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2018
Publication Date: March 2019
“Of constant fascination for me are the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative—especially if the fictional main character is White (which is almost always the case).”
—Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others (2017)
Morrison’s critique of the depiction of whiteness in fiction invites us, as English teachers, to consider the implications of our classroom reading selections and how our thinking about race, color, and identity inform those choices. Literature can present characters that reflect the everyday lives of our students, but it can also minimize or ignore their experiences. The color of a character’s skin, for example, connotes a complex message to readers, since we interpret a character’s color as an essential aspect of identity. The choices we make about texts for our students matter, especially as we consider the negative messages about race and identity conveyed to them by popular culture. The multicultural high school English classroom may be one of the only spaces where students discuss the hierarchies of skin color with their peers and a supportive adult professional, which makes our role in aiding these conversations significant. How can our classes be both provocative and safe, allowing students to explore the meanings of color in the stories they read and reflect on what those meanings tell us about ourselves and the world we live in?
This issue of English Journal explores the literature we teach that addresses issues of race, ethnicity, and skin color hierarchies and the importance of the role of English teachers in engaging students in substantive discussions about identity and selfhood. The editors are especially interested in teachers’ stories of examining cultural dominance with their students. How have students responded to your efforts to share texts that critique our racialized society? Which novels, short stories, poems, and plays have inspired your classes to analyze the hierarchies of skin color? What criteria do you use to select readings for your classes and how does your own racial identity influence those criteria? How have you used a balance of both classics and contemporary classics to address race and racial identity? In the selection of literature, how do ELA curricula value or disregard perspectives on race? What lessons have you learned about using literature that “employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative” that you would want to share with others?
“We are living in a fake world. . . . But we find reality in this fake world.”
—Haruki Murakami, “The Art of Fiction No. 182,” The Paris Review
The internet is a dominating force in young people’s lives. Common Sense Media—an independent nonprofit organization focused on helping children learn to navigate a technology-drenched world—reports that, on average, teenagers consume media nearly nine hours a day. They are much more likely to learn about the world through online social networks than through traditional sources like newspapers or broadcast news. Determining whether information is trustworthy has always required questioning and effort, but in a cultural landscape where data manipulation, partisanship, and propaganda are de rigueur, that effort is magnified exponentially.
We are all susceptible to beguiling falsehoods, but because of the intensity of their relationship with the digital universe, teenagers are uniquely vulnerable. Helping students learn to decipher credible sources of information may be one of the most important roles an English teacher plays in the 21st-century classroom.
For this issue of the journal, the editors invite manuscripts that tell the stories of both the struggles and the successes you have had in preparing students to be critical and responsible citizens. Human history and the literary arts we teach offer countless examples of information manipulation as a tool to control thinking and behavior. Which texts have you found most useful in constructing lessons or inviting dialogues about propaganda and targeted misinformation? Which disciplinary questions in English language arts offer opportunities to teach students to be suspect of information and sources? How have you collaborated with colleagues—librarians, teachers in other content areas, and counselors, for example—to create lessons that teach critical thinking? How can we prepare our students to both embrace the digital world and simultaneously question its effects on the culture?
Speaking My Mind: We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of EJ. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be uploaded to Editorial Manager at the address above in any standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. They can be submitted to Editorial Manager at the address above; we can accept any standard graphics format at 300 dpi.
For information on writing for the EJ columns, see the Columns and Column Editors info below.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, see Write for Us.
For more information, contact Englishjournal@ncte.org.